As national examinations in Arab countries are about to start, UNESCO calls for ensuring the safety of students at examination centers

Children in the Arab region face great challenges to stay in school and obtain their right to education, due to conflict, wars and widespread poverty. The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated these challenges, as the outbreak of the pandemic has led to school closure and to increasing disruption of formal education services. Thus, in addition to the 13 million children and youth in the Arab region who are not enrolled in school due to conflicts and wars, around 114 million additional learners have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis due to school closure and the shift to distance learning.

While some countries in the Arab region took the decision to cancel national examinations or reschedule them or organize them online, some countries have decided to maintain the examinations and organize them inside schools or designated examination centers.

In Syria, where examinations are scheduled to start on June 21, around 23,000 students are expected to travel across conflict areas to reach examination centers.

In this context, the Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States – Beirut, Dr. Hamed bin Saif Al Hammami, calls for ensuring the safe passage for students travelling to sit final examinations, facilitating their transit through checkpoints, and protecting them from harassment or intimidation. He further stresses the need to ensure the safety of students in examination centers.

Hamed Al-Hammami said: “Education is a human right. Students have the full right to pursue and complete their education, including through sitting national examinations. National or end-of-year examinations are a fundamental milestone in any student’s life, and a transformative one allowing students to pass to the next grade. Hence, any attempt at preventing students from reaching examination centers is unacceptable and constitutes a violation of their right to education”. Al Hamammi added: “It is essential to facilitate and support students’ safe access to sit examinations and to take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and health at examination centers. Finishing and completing education is children’s right and their hope for a better future”.

Guaranteeing children and youth’s access to education and ensuring their right to complete it, including in emergency settings, is a development and security imperative for stability and lasting peace in the region, one that UNESCO is determined to promote.

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